Welcome to the new Space To Learn STEM Conversations page 


In light of the steady stream of great ideas that so many of my STEM colleagues have been contributing to this project, it feels like a good moment to create this page as an aid to ponderings! 

Many thanks: you have confirmed to me that it is only in sharing this endeavour with the wider community of educationalists that there can be a more rigorous and thorough approach made.

We can create a unique learning space that will broadcast data for all of us to reference in our teaching.

The STEM Community – that I am fast coming to value for the sheer breadth and depth of its reach, both physically and in terms of disciplines – represents the greatest collaborative potential for this project.


An investigation into outdoor learning


What is this learning space?

What is included on this page:

1. Overview of the physical site including details of location

2. Summary of the learning benefits potential

3. Extended explanation of the planned and active sensors

4. Timeframe and intended route to delivery

💡How can this space be best equipped and configured to promote learning?

💡The desired outcome is for Primary and Secondary pupils to be shown real-world applications of physical technology

💡 Live data feeds directly into classrooms to provide STEM subjects with concrete examples of how technology can make a meaningful difference in an environmentally sensitive setting.

A 12 acre site in a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) adjoining Mourne Park, a significant Woodland Trust estate

90 mins North of Dublin

60 mins South of Belfast

The Mountains of Mourne

Learning Benefits Potential:

1. Environmental protection / measurement of urban pollution through the provision of a data set from a currently pristine environment that can be compared and contrasted in real-time

2. Action Research Project: teachers can incorporate this long-term field study into their research

3. Data analysis skills

4. Design challenge for new sensor-based biodiversity studies

Sensors Online:

1. Enviro+ HAT with particulate sensor sending data & camera imagery from tree-based Raspberry Pi to this site via MongoDB

2. The same sensors mounted on a mobile platform (robot) to be brought into schools for local site analysis

3. Wildlife cameras throughout the woods some utilising the DrayTek outdoor WiFi, some saving to SD Card for fortnightly analysis (targeting red squirrels, pine martin, kingfishers, trespassers !)

4. Cameras optimised for AI scene detect experimentation

5. Indoor humidity and temperature sensors for archive monitoring

6. PIR movement detectors (internal and external)

7. Tuya SMART interface unit – eg. latch sensing.

Sensors Ahead:

  1. Starfield: to enable light pollution as a learning point, also the recording of transitioning shooting stars (will be via Raspberry Pi & wide field CMOS)
  2. PH for the river or for the stream
  3. Moisture (soil) – Micro:Bit powered ideally
  4. Wind speed 
  5. Water flow rate (measuring electrical current generated)
  6. River depth: it is a spate river due to the mountains – potential geography learning points – pressure sensor above a submerged tube perhaps, or stacked reed switches with a buoyant magnet?
  7. Radio frequency analysis: visual representation of the prevailing bandwidth usage
  8. Directional rotating microphone: visual representation of the sound scape

Timeframe / route to delivery:

Whilst there is no rush, it would make sense to maintain momentum with this project so that pupils may begin benefitting sooner, rather than later.

To that end I intend to deploy the data streams as they go live and the associated resources that I am working to create during this academic year.

I have been invited to assist the SWLEP in their ambition of inspiring learners in the South West of England by introducing them to physical computing, especially through the Micro:Bit and Raspberry Pi. This project will, it is hoped, provide multiple examples of real world applications for physical computing and the Internet of Things.

When visiting schools in the future as a STEM Advisor, I intend to feature the Space To Learn project as a place where  one environment can inform another. In other words the differences between two data sets can underpin learning for a range of different subjects.

As a Director of Digital Writes, I also intend to find ways in which creative writing can be nurtured and reading for pleasure encouraged, for example with the trees able to offer up vocabulary electronically.

Finally there is a parallel project called the Flickernet Archive that is based within the nineteenth century Schoolhouse. It seeks to digitise and share a body of archive material which relates to the local landscape. How the historical narrative is preserved and disseminated remains to be seen, but technology offers some great options!

My sincere thanks to everyone who is helping Space To Learn to take shape, especially:

Pete Marshman and the Digit<All> Community

Rob Leeman (ARM)

Mark Ebden (STEM Regional Network Lead)

Chris Catto (STEM SLP / NSTE Lead)

Andy Prior (Nationwide STEM Ambassador)

Keith Phillips (Digital Writes)